The original last half of this story was much better and I'm vaguely annoyed that I accidentally backspaced the page and lost it, forcing me to rewrite a less than awesome version of it as a result. That said, enjoy?
(Also, this is a very lightly edited version of the original in my LJ. for posting here, I rearranged a few words because the original placement bothered me somewhat. Also added a half a question and a full question, in that order to clarify a statement made by Matt.)
"Don't you think it's a bit mad to be chasing something you can't even see?" / Mail does some Wonderland wandering.
Mail doesn't know what he needs to find so desperately, only that he needs to find it. (All Alice knows is that she must follow his grin or she'll be lost forever among the trees.)
"Hello Alice. Whatever are you looking for?" A grin floats into his line of vision and he jerks to a stop.
"The way out. My name isn't Alice."
"You must be Alice, if you've stumbled here. There is no out, you know."
"Then I want an answer."
"Ah, but then you need a question." The grin opens widewidewide-
And he's alone. Someone cackles in the distance (Hyuk hyuk hyuk), and it's underscored by the echo of crunching of apples.
He chases the echoes.
"Don't you think it's a bit mad to be chasing something you can't even see?" a voice asks, and Mail stops.
There's two of them at the cake and tea laden table, so he edges closer.
"You must be Alice. I'm Mello, the Hatter. We've been waiting for you."
"Whatever for? And I'm still not Alice," he responds, taking in the leather and burnt skin, the chocolate in his hands. His eyes drift to his head, to see the hat.
There is no hat.
"Doesn't the Hatter need a hat?" He's curious, despite himself.
Mello smiles tiredly. "There is a hat. You just can't see it."
"Why ever not?"
"You don't have the right eyes," the Hare interrupts, slurping his jam and curling into himself.
"I don't understand."
Mello waves a hand dismissively. "You don't need to see my hat anyway Mail."
"How do you know-"
"Six days left!" the Hare says eagerly, eyes locked into place where Mello's 'hat' resides. "When you're gone, can I take your eyes?" Mello ignores him in favor of chocolate. Mail tries not to look at the pile of weeping eyes by the Hare's side as he leaves the table.
Someone's still laughing.
He meets Mello again, except he's not. His skin is smooth and unburnt and he's far too young to be himself.
"I was waiting for you. Hatter told me you were here."
"I suffer from too much emotion sometimes," he informs Mail solemnly. "It just explodes out from me and I can't help myself. Watch out for the dormouse, he's still sleeping."
He turns to look down at the boy in white behind him. "No he isn't. He's doing a puzzle."
"It doesn't matter, he's still asleep. That's why I'm not emotional right now, I only suffer when he's awake. He does that to people."
"That doesn't make sense, you know."
"That's alright. I'm Mihael, by the way. I'm the King of Hearts. At least, I think I am. It's hard to tell sometimes, when I don't feel it."
"My heart. I never feel it when Near's asleep. I think it goes away when he does. Or maybe he takes it." He shrugs. "Who knows? Do you have some chocolate? The Hatter always gives me his when he visits, but he hardly ever visits anymore."
"Ah, well. You should go now. Near's waking, and I'm never very nice when he is."
Mail turns and begins the climb down the tower wall.
He doesn't bother saying he isn't Alice this time.
He's bothered when he meets himself, but older.
The other him is smoking and playing something that Mail doesn't recognize. (He's certain he will someday, but not right now.)
"I'm not actually Alice, you know."
"I know, but here you're Alice, so it's easier to just call you Alice."
"Is that your question, why are you here? Or do you mean why are you Alice? Because you only get one, you understand."
"I don't, not really."
"Didn't you see the Cat?"
"Well, if by the cat you mean the big grin that almost swallowed me, I guess so. But all he said was that I needed a question to get an answer."
The older him smiles. "He does that. But yeah, Alice only ever gets one question. It's the rules, is all. She gets one question and one answer. Or he, in this case."
Mail sighs and squats to doodle in the cigarette ashes by his older self's feet while he thinks of a question.
"I'm Matt by the way."
"But you're me."
"Yeah, I am. Except I'm not. The same way Mihael is Mello but Mello isn't Mihael. Kings can be Hatters, but Hatters can't be kings."
"Then what are you?" He knows immediately that he's asked the wrong question, but he wants to know.
Matt laughs and it's eerie. (He can hear it, hyuk hyuk hyuk, over the crunching of apples, the gunshots and screeching tires.)
"Me? I'm dead."
Mail sees Mello again a year later at Wammy's, and the blond doesn't appreciate it when his new roommate bursts into hysterical laughter at the sight of him.